Odyssey Sims backs Brittney Griner as Baylor rolls by Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Baylor coach Kim Mulkey wasn't happy with her team's complacency after building a big lead over Minnesota.

The top-ranked Lady Bears cruised to a 89-60 victory over Minnesota on Sunday in a Big12/Big Ten Challenge game. Yet Mulkey saw a lot to improve upon.

"I don't want to sound like I'm not appreciative of the 29, 30-point victory, I am," Mulkey said. "But you can't turn the ball over like Odyssey Sims does seven times. I thought we missed way too many gimme buckets. I thought we didn't defend very well in the second half when they started doing a lot of ducking their head, picking and rolling and going to the basket."

Baylor led by 48-21 at the half and didn't improve much after the break.

"I thought we became complacent a little bit with a 27-point lead at the half. We didn't extend it really. ... I just didn't see the same focus that we're going to have to have if we're going to continue to aspire to win a national championship."

And that is the goal for Baylor (8-0) this season after falling to Texas A&M in last season's regional finals.

"We're trying to do what UConn and Tennessee and those guys have done," Mulkey said.

What the Lady Bears were able to do on Sunday was prove that they can get scoring from a number of players. Brittney Griner, Baylor's 6-foot-8 junior center, will certainly attract the most attention, but this is not a one-woman team.

Griner scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Gophers (4-5), but she was very patient, kept the ball above her head and delivered accurate passes out of double-team situations. Griner finished with a season-high three assists and didn't turn the ball over in 35 minutes of action.

Sims, who finished with 15 points and nine assists, was frequently on the receiving end of Griner's passes. Griner found Sims alone in the left corner for wide open 3-pointers on two occasions during a 17-2 Baylor run to close the first half and give Baylor a 48-21 lead at the break.

"That's what we work on in practice, double team, triple team," Sims said. "It opens opportunities up for the other four people on the floor. You've got the backdoor cut, relocating, somebody coming down the middle. It helps us and it helps her too. She can score with two, three people on her, but she can also dish it and open opportunities for the rest of us."

Griner said she feels more comfortable with multiple defenders on her and it is far from a surprise.

"I'm so used to having two and three on me, that's kind of my one-on-one," said Griner, who reached the 20-point mark for the fifth consecutive game. "I see it every game."

That's exactly what Mulkey wants

"Brittney is more mature, stronger, she understands the game and the offense we're trying to run," Mulkey said. "Everything we do runs through Griner. She can make everyone look good. But, at the same time, we have some pretty good players around her. We'll keep getting better."

Those other players are part of what makes Baylor so good.

"You're constantly making adjustments," Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. "You plug a hole and another one pops open, you plug that one and another one pops open. That's why they're No. 1 in the nation."

Besides Griner and Sims, the Lady Bears had three other players score at least nine points.

Rachel Banham scored 19 points to lead Minnesota, which has now lost three of four. Leah Cotton added 14 and Kiara Buford scored 13 for the Gophers.

Any hopes Minnesota had of upsetting the Lady Bears were extinguished early. The Gophers missed their first 12 shots and trailed 11-1 before Banham made Minnesota's first field goal nearly six minutes into the game.

After Baylor stretched its lead to 20 points midway though the first half, Minnesota did close within 11, 31-19, when Buford intercepted a pass and went in for a layup.

The Lady Bears, however, wouldn't allow another Minnesota field goal before halftime.